The Interactive ZIPScribble Map

Surface map © 2010 CloudMade, OpenStreetMap contributors, CCBYSA. ZIP/postal code data from geonames.

The idea behind the ZIPScribble Map is simple: Connect all the ZIP or postal codes in a country in ascending order. Does that produce chaos or some kind of pattern? Use this interactive map to explore.

  • Pan and zoom using the mouse and your scroll wheel or scroll gesture on OS X.
  • Switch to fullscreen by clicking the little arrow widget on the top right.
  • Look at different countries using the drop-down list in the lower right.
  • Turn the map on and off. The map can be interesting to figure out where some structure is, but the scribble pattern is actually much more interesting without a background.
  • Turn state coloring on and off. This is for countries where the data contains state or province information. Coloring the states differently shows how the patterns line up with state boundaries and helps focus on structures that are natural boundaries, like mountain ranges and large rivers.
  • Link to a particular country or place. The URL reflects your current view, including the country you’ve selected and the location and zoom of the map. If you want to share a particular view, copy the entire URL. If you want a generic view of a country, only include the two-letter country code after the hash symbol. The page also remembers the last country you looked at (but a specific link overrides that).

Built using Polymaps. The source code for this page is available on github.

Published by

Robert Kosara

Robert Kosara is Senior Research Scientist at Tableau Software, and formerly Associate Professor of Computer Science. His research focus is the communication of data using visualization. In addition to blogging, Robert also runs and tweets.

4 thoughts on “The Interactive ZIPScribble Map”

  1. I sell items on and I’ve been trying to find a way to virtually ‘put a pushpin’ on a map for every customer’s zip code. It sounds silly, but I want to see where all my sales have ended up. Not for marketing purposes, just out of curiosity. I came across your zip scribble map in the process. It’s very interesting and I must commend you for a new map of the USA. :) thanks

    1. Do you know I think it does exactly what you need, puts your customers into the map using your data with zip codes.

  2. There’s seems to be an error.

    On my screen, I’m seeing a box the width of the page, proportionately tall, yet 80% is blank white space while the map is in the top left hand corner, about 300px wide.

    I’m using FF 11.0 on Windows 7.

  3. I went to the polymaps website, and found the same error there, so it’s apparently on their end. I checked in chrome and everything works fine. I’ll give them a heads up.

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